Sails on Rails

  These devices, termed sail trolleys or bogies, have always fascinated me.  As a youngster (in the early 1970's) I would accompany my father driving along the road which snakes through the dunes down to the South Gare, Teesside (where he worked as a Tees River Pilot), and I would look out for remains of the standard gauge railway which ran near the road - my father would then tell me that years ago they used to run trucks with sails fitted along this line.  (My father died when I was eleven - this is one of the enigmatic memories I have of him.  It's not impossible that this has driven my interest in such 'devices'.)
  I've as yet to find a sail railtruck in the flesh so to speak, perhaps you know where one still lives ?  In any event, if you're aware of other locations where they were used, please do let me know. (E-mail me)
Mike Munro

Francis Works Tramway, Cliffe, Kent
(2ft gauge)
Sail Trolley on the Francis Works tramway
'The sail-powered trolley used on the Francis Works tramway after it closed;
it was run down to the shore at Cliffe to dig worms and inspect the sea defences.
Mrs M.Foord'
'The Cement Railways of Kent', B.D. Stoyel & R.W.Kidner, p.64,
Oakwood Press, 1990.

[Looks to have been converted from a side-tipping vee-skip wagon, (the masts appear to have
been fastened to the supports for the skip) and, judging by the complex rigging, has been set up
by an experienced sailor - perhaps the 'old Tar' in the photograph ?]

South Gare, Teesside
('Standard' gauge)
'A sail bogie on the railway at South Gare.
(Courtesy Langbaurgh on Tees Museum Service)'
Industrial Railway Record, No.131, p.135
'...photographer A. Cattani of Redcar'
D.Bayliss, Sheffield
Industrial Railway Record, No.131, p.73
Dignitories at the South Gare, Redcar.
'The occasion is not known, but to judge by the top hats, the visitors about to enjoy a ride on one of the sailbogies were of some importance.
 [Peter Tinsley, East Cleveland Trails and Tourism Project.]'
Industrial Heritage Magazine, 1995, Vol.13, No.2, p.15
(Sail bogie on the South Gare - Teesside)

Spurn Head Railway, East Yorkshire
(?? Gauge)
'...view of a sail bogie on the Spurn head Railway.
(courtesy N. Redmayne)'
'The Spun Head Railway', Kenneth E. Hartley,
Industrial Railway Record, No.67, Aug 1976, p.276
'Sail bogie as used by the lifeboatmen on the Spurn Head Railway.
(collection K.E.Hartley)'
'The Spun Head Railway', Kenneth E. Hartley,
Industrial Railway Record, No.67, Aug 1976, p.274

Port Stanley, The Falklands
(?? Gauge)
'A convoy of sail trollies on the Admiralty Wireless
Tramway at Port Stanley in the Falklands, probably taken 1910/20ish.
Quality is poor, being a scan of a not-very-well-photocopied-photograph.'
Info and picture provided by Mike Jackson - many thanks

Ransomes and Rapier, Waterside Works, Ipswich
(2'-6" to 5'-6" Gauge)
'Sail trolley pictured at Waterside Works, first produced in 1869'
(R&R - Suffolk Record Office)
'Rail Trolleys', The Narrow Gauge No.177, 2002, p.61
'From the very beginning, engineer's trolleys were included in the company's [Ransomes & Rapier] ramge of products. The earliest example was a four-wheeled gang trolley first advertised in 1869, which was available with the added sophistigation of a mast and sail. No doubt this was a useful asset on some remote and exposed section of line, but it is not recorded whether the return of the gangers depended on the prevailing wind !
These simple wooden platelayer's trolleys were available in gauges ranging from 2' 6" to 5' 6" and in 1885 were priced from 6 to 12 (or 4 to 8 5s 0d for the ironwork only), dependent on guage. In the same year, a standard guage sail trolley mounted on springs was available for 25.'

[The only sail trolley (that I'm aware of, at least) as offered by a manufacturer
(Ransomes & Rapier in this case). A 'standard' wooden framed gangers trolley -
with sail and mast available as an optional extra.]

Stokes Bay Light Railway, Gosport
(60cm or 2ft gauge)
'RE Sail trolley travels between Fort Blockhouse and Fort Monckton, Gosport, circa 1895.
(Royal Signals Museum)
'Sail and Steam to Gilkicker Point', The Narrow Gauge No.133, 1991, p.6

Spooner's Boat, Festiniog Railway, Snowdonia
(1ft-11.5" gauge)

Oystermouth (Swansea & Mumbles)
(4ft or 4ft-2" gauge)
['The Swansea and Mumbles Railway', Charles E.Lee, The Oakwood Press. p.6 : 'An attempt to use wind power was reported in The Cambrian of 18 April 1807, as follows: An experiment of a novel kind was made on the Oystermouth Tramroad yesterday, to ascertain the practicability of a carriage proceeding to the Mumbles without horse, by the aid of the wind alone. Some Jolly Sons of Neptune rigged a wagon with a long-sail, and the wind blowing strong and as fair as could be wished, set out from our quay, and after clearing the houses dropped anchor at the end of the tramroad in less than three quarters of an hour, having come a distance of about 4 1/2 miles.']

Herne Bay, Pier Railway, Kent
(gauge unknown)
['Pier Railways', Sydney A.Leleux, The Narrow Gauge No.230, Autumn 2014. p.4 : 'A wooden pier 3,633 feet long was opened in 1832. 'Remarkably, a sail-powered carriage operated on its baggage line from June 1833. This pier closed and was dismantled in the 1860s.']

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This page last updated on 3rd May 2015